We are in the United States. We paid for a thirty day mooring ball at the City Marina in Boot Key harbor of Marathon, Florida. I am so happy to be home. Read a few stories from the last two months below.
The day had been a hot and sunny, lazy afternoon on Sanibel. We were anchored in the absolute middle of nowhere in the Bahamas. Old coral heads, now just large rocks protruding from the ocean were in front of us and more were off to one side. A large ship wreck sticking out of the ocean in twenty six feet of water was off to the other side of us. I was baking bread while engrossed in my latest novel. Jimi told me he was going for a swim. Since we’ve been in secluded paradise, He swims naked when no one is around to avoid getting his swim trucks dripping with salt water and messing up the cockpit as they dry. As I was removing the first loaf of bread from the oven, I heard Jimi whistle. I hollered “Just a minute” and removed the second loaf. I turned off the oven and climbed the companionway stairs into the cockpit. I expected Jimi would be on the side of the boat either wanting to hand me something he found or take of picture of something he found. I hollered “I’m here”. But there was no response. I looked over the side but he was nowhere to be seen. Then I heard the whistle again and again. I looked all around. It sounded like the whistles were coming from the rocks to my left, but I couldn’t see him.
Then I heard a faint yell “Can you hear me?” After looking around some more, I spotted a naked Jimi standing on the rocks to my right about an eighth of a mile away.
I responded “yes”.
Again I heard “Can you hear me?”
Louder I yelled “YES”.
“Can you hear me?”
Annoyed “Yeeesssss!” He couldn’t hear me and I didn’t know what to do.
Then he yelled “I can’t hear you because of the wind and surf. I need you to do something for me.” O.k. I thought and signaled with a wave. He also said “I can’t see you very well because the sun is right behind you” Great, I thought. Then he began telling me what he needed me to do. “Remove the stern line”
For a few seconds all that registered in my head was What? Why? And how does that help you way over there? and then it hit me. He was stuck on the rock and unable swim back. I assumed it was because of the current or something similar and I was going to have to go get him.
“Aw hell, aw hell, aw hell!” I walked to the stern and released the bridal line. I let it fall in to the water as he instructed me to and made my way to the cockpit.
“Turn on the windlass” he said. I went below deck removed the windlass cable from its storage, turned on the breaker and headed for the bow. Since Jimi couldn’t hear me he instructed me to wave my right arm high in the air if I understood his instructions. I responded accordingly. I began to pull in the anchor, removed the snubbing line when it approached and then slowly brought in more chain, as to not strain the windlass motor. Normally the engine would be running giving us forward motion as the anchor chain is being lifted on to the boat, but this day was different. I needed to be able to hear Jimi and wouldn’t be able to over a noisy engine. After a few minutes the other end of the bridal line came up. I untied it and continued to reel in the anchor until Sanibel was unleashed. I went back to the cockpit. Jimi instructed me to put the port side of the boat to him. He would need the ladder to climb aboard and it was on the port side. I started the engine and turned on the chart plotter so I could watch for reefs and the depth. I put her in forward and gave her some throttle. I turned to my starboard (away from Jimi) making a circle, so I would bring the port side right up to him and wouldn’t have to try to turn around so close to the rocks. Jimi watched me intently and at times he guided me as if I were an airplane on a runway. I was almost there.
“slow down” he hollered as I approached just fifty feet away. Now twenty feet from the rocks “put it in reverse” I did and then seconds later “neutral” I did. I had a line ready to throw him, as I still assumed the rescue had something to do with the current. He jumped in the water and swam to me. I did not need to throw the line. He climbed aboard, praised me for doing a perfect job and took over the helm. I went below deck to check on things in the galley. Once we were safely anchored again he told me he couldn’t swim back because he was being harassed by two black finned reef sharks. He had swam all through the reefs and around the rocks when a shark approached him. Jimi instinctively growled at the shark. The shark turned around going the other way. Just as soon as Jimi also turned to go about his business Jimi was face to face with a second shark. He began to swim towards Sanibel, but felt too nervous about the splashing he was causing. Jimi headed for the rocks and climbed ashore. And that’s where I came in. When I picked him up, he said he was still nervous to even swim the fifteen to twenty feet to the boat, but had to do it.
Over a month ago I woke up one morning not feeling so great. My belly was rumbling; I felt tired and drained. I laid around on the bed most of the morning not doing much of anything. As the afternoon approached, I began feeling worse. Jimi noticed and asked me about it. I explained all my diagnose me because we don’t have medical insurance). For the next two days I laid on my bed in severe agony. The pain was worse than anything I had ever felt before; even worse than labor pains during child birth. My temperature spiked to 102°. I was freezing cold in ninety degree weather and ten minutes later I was so hot I couldn’t stand it. Jimi tried to get me to drink water, but I refused. I would only take a sip with some ibuprophen to control my fever. If I drank any more than that, within minutes, I would get gut wrenching intestinal cramps and then spend the next twenty or more minutes in the bathroom. I refused to ingest anything. As if the intestinal cramps were not enough, I experienced all over body aches I can only describe as the body flu. My entire body was extremely sensitive to any sort of touch. No matter how I laid I hurt, so I did the only thing I could do that gave me any sort of relief, I moaned and cried. I was in and out of dream land, but I was not dreaming. On shore, a Doctor was standing by to examine me, but I refused. I didn’t want anyone to see me in the condition I was in. Jimi said he would give me a couple of days and if I showed no signs of improvement he would have to bring the Doctor to see me. On the third day the body aches were nearly gone, my fever broke and the cramping had improved. I agreed to eat a little here and there (applesauce, cream of wheat and Progresso soup) and drink more water. Jimi determined I had giardia with dysentery. It’s been over a month and I still have some symptoms, but nothing as they were. I would not wish this on anyone.
We’ve inherited some guests aboard Sanibel. We’ve brought back with us a gecko who lives under the lines on the bow, a tree frog (the last time we saw him, he was on the dinghy), a gazillion itty bitty ants barely visible unless you know they are there and some weird flying nat things. How these stow-a-ways managed to get on the boat is beyond us. We have no beef with the gecko or the frog and the nats are disappearing slowly, but the tiny ants are annoying and we will take evasive action to rid them of our lives. Prior to our stow away gecko, Jimi boarded a gecko we named Lao. He lived in the navigation station eventually moving to the tool bench. We thought he would scurry around the boat eating the unwanted bugs. We’ve heard of other cruisers having geckos aboard just for that reason. However, Lao never left the tool area. We would check on him and talk to him every time we passed. Often times it was like “Finding Waldo”; he would become camouflaged in the mess of tools as he moved about the shelf. We gave him water in a bottle cap and bits of food, but he never seemed interested in any of it. We began to wonder if the poor guy would survive and knew we would feel guilty if he died, so Jimi released him. At least now Jimi can grab a tool for the work bench without worrying about Lao.
We went two months without seeing another cruiser or a grocery store to speak of. Our provisioning was low in some areas and we learned to get even more creative than we already had been. We had mixed macaroni and cheese with canned chicken, with tuna, sometimes Rotel tomatoes and even with corned beef. None of that seems out of the ordinary, right?. When we ran out of butter, I substituted olive oil. It worked great on our grilled cheese sandwiches. I created my own version of a tuna melt sandwich. I spread a mixture of mayo, tuna, and garlic topped with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese between two pieces of fried bread. We experimented enough with fresh conch to come up with a mouth watering recipe, battered and fried. We had planned to grill conch on the barbeque, but our conch collecting came to an end with the shark sightings. We tried to make hamburger patties out of corned beef by mixing it with a meatloaf mixture (eggs and bread crumbs), but the corned beef fell apart anyhow. We weren’t starving but we didn’t have all the ingredients for one recipe or even a complete meal unless we are talking about peanut butter and jelly. We were definitely lacking in the meat department, however; we had unknowingly overstocked on canned vegetables, including canned asparagus, which we avoided due to its canned mushiness. Our last concoction consisted of rice, alfredo sauce, sautéed onions, canned asparagus (chopped) and our last can of chicken. Once we added salt and pepper, it’s wasn’t too bad. Jimi and I have spent months dreaming of eating the biggest most all American hamburger imaginable with all the fixings and we have. We didn’t take the meal for granted. We enjoyed every thankful bite.
We arrived in Marathon with so much to do. We needed showers, were desperate to do laundry, needed groceries and wanted to make contact with the world via phones and the internet. Somehow we got through the demanding list and are pleasantly settled. I am so excited to be home in the United States of America where things are familiar. We will remain in the U.S. until hurricane season is over. We may stay in Boot Key harbor the entire two months or we may go north to Charlotte Harbor for the second month.
It’s good to be back!
Lorie & Jimi